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Round the Sphere Again: Books, Books, Books

One of the fun parts of being church librarian is that I get to order new books for the library. Along with requests and suggestions I receive from others in my church, I use blog book suggestions and reviews when deciding which books to order. So I’m always collecting book posts for future reference and I’ve decided to share some recent ones with you in a Round the Sphere post. Most of these I won’t end up ordering because I don’t have a big budget, but they’re all ones I am or have considered.

Children and Families

  • ESV Illustrated Family Bible (Mark Tubbs at Discerning Reader)

    While my children and I were making our way through this book I regularly recommended it to other families, and I still do. It’s well worth the investment even if it wears out by the time you finish it.

  • Give Them Grace (John Bird at While We Sojourn)

    These two experienced mothers don’t pretend that they are perfect, that their children are perfect, or that they have the secret key to perfection. They don’t give readers a formula for parenting; there are no “three steps,” or even specified rod dimensions (though they do say that an open hand is okay, regardless of what other parenting books have said). Instead, they remind us that it is God, and not parents, who determines a child’s destiny in this life and the next, and that we need His grace as much as our children do.

    John has a couple of reservations about this book, so you might want to check that out.

  • Grandpa’s Box (Justin Taylor at Between Two Worlds)
    It’s a creative presentation of the biblical storyline, as a grandpa uses objects in an old box to retell the stories. I think parents will be surprised at the nuanced biblical theology at play here. I am being instructed as I read.

Young Adults

  • Thriving at College (Frank Turk at Pyromaniacs)

    Imagine you’re a college student, and you had a big brother who was watching you (not stalking you, just paying attention) who had been through college and turned out pretty good. And imaging that, because he loved you, he gave you a relatively short list of “to do’s” for your 4 years at college.

    If he wrote down all the advice he would give you, it would be this book.



  • John Piper’s list of favorite biographies (Desiring God Blog).
  • Hudson Taylor: Gospel Pioneer to China (Tim Challies)
    In Hudson Taylor: Gospel Pioneer to China, Vance Christie has given us a short but powerful account of the life of a man who was truly great in the Kingdom of God. If it has been too long since you have read the biography of a missionary, don’t miss out on the opportunity to be blessed by this one.


  • Historical Theology (Ordinary Pastor)
    As a pastor we have used Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology as a text to introduce men to the theological truth. Now, I am thankful, that Gregg Allison has published a Historical Theology that functions as a companion to Grudem’s very helpful work.

Christianity and Liberalism: Chapter 2

I still don’t have a copy of Christianity and Liberalism. Yesterday gave me a refund on my order, saying that the package containing the book was “undeliverable,” whatever that means. I was tracking my order on the UPS website and it looks to me like it never left their Concord, ON facilities, so I’d say they didn’t try very hard to deliver it. I may be foolishly optimistic, but I’ve reordered the book and look forward to having it in my hands this time next week.

Thankfully, I have a PDF copy of Christ so I’m still able to participate in Tim Challies’ Reading Classics Together. This week’s chapter, the second, was titled “Doctrine,” and I’d sum it up a defense of the importance of doctrine to true Christianity. 

I’ll admit that I found last week’s introductory chapter a little ho-hum, mostly because it was dated. Not so with this week’s chapter. First, the importance of doctrine is one of my favorite topics, and second, while Machen wrote with the liberal Christianity of his day in mind, what he wrote we completely applicable to certain currant movements within Christianity.

I’m bet you’ve heard people downplay the importance of doctrine in contrast to the importance of living a Christian life. That’s an idea that Machen deals with thoroughly in this chapter. It is clear, he says, that even in it’s early stage, the Christian movement,

was not just a way of life … but a way of life founded upon a message. It was based, not upon mere feeling, not upon a mere program of work, but upon an account of facts. In other words it was based upon doctrine.

As evidence of this, he uses the example of the different reactions from Paul in regards to, on the one hand, the teachers who preached Christ out of rivalry in Philippians, and on the other, the Judaizers in Galatians. Paul is tolerant of the rival teachers “because there the content of the message that was being proclaimed … was true.” In contrast, he opposed the Judaizers because the content of their teaching was false.

Paul saw very clearly that the differences between the Judaizers and himself was the differences between two entirely distinct types of religion; it was the differences between a religion of merit and a religion of grace. 

The teaching of Jesus, too, “was rooted in doctrine.” If we have “a nondoctrinal religion, or a doctrinal religion founded merely on general truth, we must give up not only Paul, not only the primitive Jerusalem Church, but also Jesus himself.”

The nondoctrinal Christianity of liberalism is, Machen concludes, not Christianity at all, but “a naturalistic negation of all Christianity.” Liberalism is a rival of Christianity and in opposition to it in every way, and examining that opposition is the point of the following chapters in Christianity and Liberalism, starting in the next chapter with doctrines about God and about man.


Thankful Thursday

I’m thankful for the lessons I’ve been taught from experience. I’m a wiser person than I used to be (at least in a few ways) and it’s because God has taught me through my circumstances, trials, and mistakes over the years. 

I’m thankful that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. 

I’m thankful for the lives of faithful servants of Jesus, and for one man’s life in particular. I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to sing with my church choir at his memorial service on Saturday. 

I’m thankful for good books I can order inexpensively. I’ve got several I’m reading and a couple in the mail.

I’m thankful that so many of the seeds in the garden have sprouted. I’m thankful my garden vegies are one of the ways God provides for me.

Throughout this year I’m planning to post a few thoughts of thanksgiving each Thursday along with Kim at the Upward Call and others.


Round the Sphere Again: Adam and Christ Times Two

Naked and Full of Shame
From Nancy Guthrie:

Adam lost for us the beautiful ‘naked and not ashamed’ of the garden. But at the cross, Christ hung naked and full of shame. It wasn’t his own shame. It was your shame and my shame. He ‘endured the cross, despising the shame’ (Heb. 12:2) so that ‘everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame’ (Rom. 10:11). 

Read the whole quote at Of First Importance.

All His Kinfolk
From Neil Shay at The NEW Calvinist Gadfly:

Of Adam—

All of his kinfolk die, died, and will die, even if they accomplish the unachievable, and do not sin. And they are dead forever, in every way that a person can be dead. Even while they live, they are dead.

Of Christ— 

All of his kinfolk die, died, but will live, because He accomplished the inconceivable, and did not sin. And they will live forever, in every way that a person can be alive. Even when they die, they live.

Read it all.


Theological Term of the Week

vocation, doctrine of
The teaching that all labor is a divine calling and a means by which God works his providential care for creation, so that all work has meaning as service to Christ; the teaching that all of life submitted to God is sacred and all honest work is holy.

  • From scripture: 

    Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

    27 So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.

    28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” … 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:26-28, 31 ESV).

  • From Living for God’s Glory by Joel Beeke:1 
    Reformed teachings regarding work can be summarized in the following points: 

    1. God works, and we are called to bear His image.
    2. God derives satisfaction from His work.
    3. God provides for us through our work. 
    4. God has commanded man to work, and to work within the framework of His commands.
    5. God holds us accountable for our work and expects to be acknowledged through it. 
    6. God provides particular gifts designed to meet particular needs in the advancement of His kingdom.
    7. The fall radically affected our work. Work becomes toil; thorns and thistles frustrate our efforts; fallen man seeks to glorify himself rather than his Creator through work.
    8. Work is an individual as well as a social activity.
    9. God takes pleasure in beauty, and the Scriptures do not focus simply on the functional and utilitarian aspects of work.
    10. Christ worked as part of His active obedience, and the believer’s work through Christ is part of obedience.

Learn more:

  1. Gene Edward Veith: The Doctrine of Vocation
  2. Gene Edward Veith: Our Calling and God’s Glory
  3. Aaron Armstrong: Your Work Is Your Calling
  4. Tim Keller: Vocation: Discerning Your Calling
  5. Stan Reeves: The Spirituality of Work
  6. Jerram Barrs: Work: A Holy Calling 
  7. J. I. Packer: 3 Short Videos on Vocation
  8. Dr. Robert S. Rayburn: Theology of Work Sermons (transcripts and mp3s)

Related terms:

Filed under Anthropology.

1The chapter from which this is taken is written by Ray Pennings.

Do you have a term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.